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Latin America Conservation Council: Act Now to Protect our Natural Capital

Council moves forward on its vision for Water Security, Sustainable Food Security, and Smart Infrastructure at second annual plenary meeting


IGUAÇU, BRAZIL | November 12, 2012

The Latin America Conservation Council met this weekend against the backdrop of Iguaçu Falls to review its first year of work and lay out plans for a second-year agenda implementing scalable solutions to three of Latin America’s most pressing environmental and development challenges: Water Security, Sustainable Food Security, and Smart Infrastructure.

This group of global entrepreneurs and leaders reviewed progress on a set of strategic projects and partnerships being supported across Latin America to help secure water for at-risk cities, create incentives for sustainably intensifying food production, and design infrastructure projects to have reduced impacts on nature.

“We spent a day and a half rolling up our sleeves. There is a real commitment in this group to make a difference on issues that matter to the people and biodiversity of Latin America,” said Council Co-Chair and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. “Year one was about taking stock. Moving forward, this Council sees ample opportunities to raise awareness among decision-makers and the public on science-based solutions that are within our reach.”

According to Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, the conservation non-profit that is coordinating the Council’s efforts: "The Council is off to a great start. With top leaders from business, government, the science sector and civil society, the Council will make a big impact by applying innovative solutions to conserving the natural systems that sustain the people and economies of Latin America."

For its second year, the Council announced that Roberto Hernández, Chairman of Banco Nacional de México and Vice Chair of the Nature Conservancy, will join Paulson as the Council’s new Co-Chair. Alain Belda, who had been Co-Chair in the Council’s first year, will continue on as a Council member.

“It is a great honor to become Co-Chair of the Council and to help lead the groundbreaking efforts of this group of leaders. Latin Americans care deeply about protecting nature. We protect what we care for the most. That is the force behind our work to protect Latin America’s natural capital for future generations,” Hernandez said.

Since its inaugural meeting in November 2011, in Cartagena, Colombia, the Council has supported the design and implementation of innovative solutions for the region’s greatest challenges:

  • Water Security actions have been oriented towards securing clean water for 25 of Latin America’s most at-risk cities. Working with the Latin America Water Funds Partnership and other allies, the Council seeks to advance water projects in cities like Monterrey, São Paulo, Guatemala City, Santiago, and Medellín. Public, private and civil society partnerships have united by creating water funds to protect watersheds and bring measurable benefits to nature and upstream and downstream communities.
  • Sustainable Food Security activities will continue to focus on bringing together a wide array of stakeholders —small- and large-scale producers, companies, financial institutions and governments— to support the protection of key landscapes and seascapes through actions like greening supply chain management, sustainable grazing and fisheries, and other incentives that simultaneously intensify production and discourage habitat conversion. Such models are already being used in several Latin American countries, and specific programs will be implemented in Pará and Mato Grosso states in Brazil, the Llanos grasslands in Colombia, and Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
  • Smart Infrastructure calls for designing Latin America´s major energy, mining and transport infrastructure to have no net impact —or even a positive impact— on natural capital. The Council has supported various diagnostics and feasibility studies in Brazil, Mexico, Peru and other countries, to work with governments and companies to adopt transparent and effective compensation policies, while pushing for the use of best, low-impact practices by developers and lenders. Specific projects will begin operating in the western Amazon, the Tapajos river basin in Brazil, as well as in the Coatzacoalcos River basin in Mexico.

A number of Council members and the institutions they represent have also provided generous financial and in-kind backing to advance the Council’s goals. This shows a unique leadership in committing to safeguard Latin America’s natural capital as a smart investment that can yield positive returns for business, local communities and biodiversity.


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org

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